Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Macy’s should have stayed local

    Understanding the importance of a brand name that has been around (and loved) for decades was the failure of that decision. I don't think a company (Macy's) can take an iconic store like Marshall Field's and make it history without major percussions. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but the question posed by Lee Peterson is a valid one.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Should retailers continue the chatbot deception?

    Transparency has always been a favorite of mine. Despite the cons to revealing that one is communicating with a virtual and not a real CSR, informing the consumer should always win out over shady practices.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Has Ben & Jerry’s gone too far with its stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    If Ben & Jerry's went bust as a company tomorrow (or the day after tomorrow) and its leadership wound up in misery, it would not bother me a bit. This is the most despicable decision by an American business in a very long time. If justice is done, they should be gone shortly.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    How will COVID-19 shape future consumers?

    It is important for retailers to begin reading the professionally-issued studies. Most of these studies will be coming out over time, not tomorrow. Marketing departments of most retailers should be very busy reading and planning how to adjust to the newly-established norms and preferences. Plenty of work there...
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    Should retailers reconsider bringing their HQ staff back to work?

    You said "productivity rates," I said "efficacy." Definitely one of many factors.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    Should retailers reconsider bringing their HQ staff back to work?

    I believe that, regrettably, we do not yet know enough about how working from home as opposed to a hybrid, as opposed to working full time in the office affects - independently - the psyche of the employee and the efficacy of the business. There will be studies in the next five years that look back at this pandemic event and render results that may surprise all of, or that are indeterminate.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2021

    Have indie bookstores found answers to counter Amazon?

    Agree. The attraction of the independent bookstore is in the atmosphere, in the personalized service, and in the rarity (even one-of-a-kind) of the inventory. Couple all those factors with rainy days cuddled up with and one has the answer: brick-and-mortar wins out for indie bookstores.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Can facial recognition outlast its bad press?

    Retailers do not necessarily have to refrain from future use of this technology. The technology will improve, fewer embarrassing situations will arise and the universe is likely to go back to being in balance once again. For those who would shy away from using facial recognition, there is fingerprint recognition and there is also NFC with a smartphone. Albeit not dissimilar from facial recognition, fingerprint recognition is probably more accurate and, thus, less likely to cause cases of mistaken identity. It is also more likely to pass on germs. The ethical use of the images is top of mind for consumers, retailers and hackers.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2021

    Walmart exec says robots will seriously speed up DC-to-store supply chain ops

    The use of robotics to perform repetitive tasks that require accuracy speeds up at least two tasks in the process: stacking the pallets and unloading a truck at the store, the latter being as or more critical than the former. Also note that this is not an off-the-shelf solution; the robots were designed with and for Walmart.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    When will predictive models become more predictable?

    I could not agree more. One can predict very accurately in a steady state, however we live in a world of ever-changing forces and conditions. Under that reality, predictive models will only work so far. Beyond that, intuition and real-life experience will drive the decisions to be made.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    7-Eleven expands mobile checkout to thousands of U.S. stores

    If we call the store type "convenient," then it should be convenient from as many aspects as possible. That includes mobile checkout.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    Will ending non-competes be good for retail workers and their bosses?

    This is not a simple question. I think that stating that an ex-employee of Company A cannot accept employment at Company B is like restraint of trade. An employee has a right to earn a living and s/he has a better chance if s/he has worked in a similar business before. As hard as it is to prove, the restriction might be on divulging trade secrets, such as chemical formulations or unique software developments.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2021

    Will ‘Scan & Ship’ give Sam’s a leg up on club competition?

    Sam's Club is going in the right direction with consumer-centric technology. The fact that they realize that most consumers don't want another app, and offer a sort of try-before-you-buy approach to using the functionality, is very clever. Consumers will hook themselves.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Why do healthy eating campaigns fall on deaf ears?

    All of the healthful eating ads and promotions we see seem to me more like a public service announcement than any thing else. I feel like the only people that are happy to see them are those who advocate for healthful eating, not those who need to eat healthfully. Until a person comes to his/her own conclusions about his/her health, sadly, they are only words.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2021

    Will in-person conferences make a comeback after a year of virtual shows?

    They were a good replacement during restrictive times. Only those in-person conferences that potential attendees consider truly worthwhile will survive. Professionals like to meet and chat with one another. Human beings are social animals. Conventioneers will be more selective from now on and will gravitate only to those events that provide a sense of personal as well as professional satisfaction.

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